PNC Tower's steel beams begin climbing Downtown


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The Tower at PNC Plaza has started its climb to the sky.

With its massive block-long foundation complete, the first steel beams have begun to rise from the ground, signaling a new phase in construction of PNC Financial Services Group's $400 million headquarters.

For the next year, iron workers will be erecting the skyscraper's 33-story steel frame. By the time the job is finished next summer, 9,000 tons of steel will have been used to hoist the office tower into the sky.

Emily Krull, a PNC spokeswoman, said Tuesday that the Downtown complex being built on Wood Street between Forbes and Fifth avenues is on pace to be completed by June 2015.

For much of the last year, the action took place below street level. Crews supervised by construction manager P.J. Dick excavated the site, clearing the way for the work on the foundation and an underground parking garage that will hold up to 136 vehicles and as many as 195 bicycles.

PNC has been billing its new office tower as the "greenest skyrise in the world," one that will exceed the top standards for sustainable design. It has said that a solar chimney to be built into the skyscraper will be the first in new construction in North America.

The chimney will work in unison with a diamond-shaped solar heat collector at the top of the tower that will absorb sunlight and help to draw air through the building. "Pop out" windows also will allow air inside to assist in cooling.

On its website, PNC estimates that because of those green features and others, its tower will use 50 percent less energy each year than a typical new office building. That translates into 130,000 gallons of gasoline, 108,000 gallons of fuel oil and 1.6 million pounds of coal.

By recycling rain water and using low-flow fixtures, the bank figures it will use 80 percent less water than a typical new office tower, enough to provide 25,000 people with clean, fresh drinking water for a year.

With the steel working its way into the sky, Ms. Krull said the tower construction is about 11 percent complete. Before it's finished, about 2,500 people will be involved in the construction, with 500 on the job at peak times.

The new headquarters will feature more than 800,000 square feet of space and house about 3,000 employees, including PNC's top executives. The bank plans to create five six-story "neighborhoods" within the building to make it feel more like a campus than an office tower.

Sippel Steel Fab of Ambridge is supplying the steel for the project. It also provided the steel for the bank's Three PNC Plaza office, condominium and hotel tower on Fifth Avenue. It opened in 2009.

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Mark Belko: mbelko@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1262.


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